|Wade Shipman, Superintendent of Schools
No Tunnel Vision – Setting Priorities
During my time as Superintendent I have spoken about what things I believe are most important to our school system. Safety is always at the top of the list followed by increasing our academic expectations and improving facilities in our system. These are certainly key priorities for us, but sometimes the thought is that if you are improving the athletic facilities or playgrounds, then we are ignoring other needs in our system like academics or band and choir. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are fortunate to be able to work on multiple aspects of our system at the same time.
Our academic priorities and accomplishments sometime go unnoticed. Let me share what we are doing to improve our system academically. Every year each of our schools develop a Continuous Improvement Plan that sets several academic goals for our schools to work towards achieving during the upcoming school year. These goals are usually focused on math or reading and are established by using test score data. Every year we reassess these goals and set new ones to drive our classroom instructional decisions. In the last two years we have implemented a new reading program called Reading Horizon and have been very happy with the results. Reading Horizon’s is a direct instruction, reading intervention program and is being used in grades K-12.
We have implemented a one to one technology initiative in grades 5-12. We are constantly reviewing this initiative to continue improving its impact. We are looking for learning gains. A year ago we re-directed a teaching position from Tallassee High School (Mrs. Brooke Barron) into an Instructional Coach assigned to Tallassee High School to help teacher’s better use technology as an instructional tool in their classrooms. At Southside Middle School we have made a similar arrangement with Mrs. Britney Spencer supporting improved instruction on that campus. This has been a very ‘popular’ initiative however we hope the best has yet to come as we make improvements. Our ‘new’ career center is completed, where numerous dual enrollment classes are made available to our students. Our state standards are aimed at making our students college and career ready.
We are making progress with our academic goals in our system. Our focus is to make progress every year in all of our schools. We have established our vision and are prioritizing resources accordingly. We do not have tunnel vision, only focusing on one area of our system at a time. We are able to focus on academics, athletics, and music all at the same time. My hope is that we can give all of our children the resources they need to be successful, no matter what path they choose to follow.